MONTREAL - One would be hard-pressed to find any kid that would be excited at the idea of attending summer school. Then again, this isn't your ordinary academic institution.
The first edition of the Montreal Canadiens Hockey School was held this week at the Sportsplexe 4-Glaces in Pierrefonds with over 100 youth hockey players participating in a one-of-a-kind experience. Novice, Atom and PeeWee players took to the ice for various drills and agility tests built out of the Canadiens' LRF Program, which would allow the coaches to give valuable feedback to the kids.
Former Hab Gaston Gingras was one of several who donned a coaching cap for the week-long event and the lucky participants were treated to some pretty special guests each day.
"Some of these kids, it's amazing the skill level that they have. They have all these opportunities out there. They've just got to work hard and have the right attitude. It's amazing how far that can take you," said Mike Komisarek, one of seven Canadiens to participate.
Guillaume Latendresse, Christopher Higgins, Steve Begin, Mathieu Dandenault, Maxim Lapierre and Francis Bouillon were the others on hand throughout the week to offer their expertise.
Words of wisdom also came from a few guys with some experience both on the ice and behind the bench, also known as the Canadiens' coaching staff of head coach Guy Carbonneau and assistant coaches Doug Jarvis, Kirk Muller, and Roland Melanson.
Latendresse, just eight years removed from PeeWee hockey himself, liked what he saw from the eager youngsters.
"There could be some future NHLers here," admitted the 20-year-old forward. "These kids are pretty good!"
Unable to lace up his skates for a stint on the ice as he rehabs from a clavicle injury suffered towards the end of the season, Higgins was nonetheless enjoying every minute of it.
"It's awesome. I laughed all day long with these kids. There are always some funny questions," Higgins said. "The kids are really paying attention to what you say and are really taken with what you have to say to them."
Judging by the smiles on the kids' faces, they're already dreaming of being the teacher.
Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com